Author Topic: AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Base Codes & Patent Numbers Survey  (Read 20002 times)

Offline AE_Collector

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AECo Bakelite Era Phones - Base Codes & Patent Numbers Survey
« on: October 02, 2011, 09:32:30 PM »
Okay, here is my attempt at putting together a survey of AE Phone Base Codes and Patent Numbers.

This is for AE 1, 2, 34, 35, 40, 43, 44, 47 & 50 models. Basically the Bakelite Era for AE but not neccesarily ONLY bakelite phones. AE phones from the 1920's through the late 1950's basically. If you have any of these and can spare some time to answer the survey for one or all of your phones in this category I would appreciate your efforts.

The only way to try to decipher AE's coding on phones is to get lots of samples along with a description of how the phone was equipped. I have been working on this on and off for several years now but could really use more input.

If you cut the text of the suurvey out below and paste it into a reply you can then edit your answers in over the samples I put there as answers. Please be sure to remove any of the sample answers in spaces where you don't have an answer of your own so there isn't any incorrect information in your answers.

Paul-F whipped up a Word Form for me that you could fill in and email to me or scan it and post the results to the thread. The form is the very bottom attachement right after the last picture of THIS Post. It is a single line item so easy to miss.

If you use Excel I could email you my spreadsheet and you could fill it in and email it back to me.

You don't have to answer all of the questions, just answer what you can. If you need further expanation of anything just ask and I'll add more to the post to try to make it easier to do.

The "Metal Dial Mount (40) Ring" question refers to early AE 40's that didn't have 3 bakelite tabs that the dial screws go through but rather has a steel dial mounting ring inside the bakelite case. PICTURE OF THIS STEEL DIAL MOUNTING RING IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.

AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST ARE some PICTURES:
1 - Black - Small    = Black Background with Small Number Area
----Black - Medium = Not Shown but Self Explanatory
2 - Black - Large    = Black Background with Large Number Area
3 - White - Large   = White Background with Large Number Area
4 - Gold AE Decal = Count the number of Patents excluding the DES number.
5 - An Ivory 40 showing the metal dial mounting ring occasionally seen in early AE40's
6 - Paul-F whipped up a Word File form that you can fill in or print and fill in.

Here are the questions for the AE Base Code Survey:

Questions: --------------------------  Answers:
Common AE Model # ------------------ 40
Color of phone / handset ------------- Black Bakelite
Base Code section 1 ------------------- N4020
Base Code section 2 ------------------- A3H
Base Code section 3 ------------------- PB9
DES Number from Label/Decal---------177876
D Number from Label/Decal ----------- D-780504-A18
Number of Patent #'s on Decal --------11 + Des #
Gold Decal / Paper / Ink Stamped? ----Gold Transfer Decal on Base
USA or Canadian Made ----------------- Chicago 7
Handset Trim finish --------------------- No Handset Bands
Plain Caps or Routed Grooves?---------Bakelite Caps have several routed grooves
Dial Fingerwheel ------------------------ Black Painted Brass
Dial Number Card Description-----------Black background - larger # area
Cradle Buttons finish ------------------- Chrome
Has Carry Bar or Plunger Blocks ------- Carry Bar
Carry Bar / Blocks Finish --------------- Chrome
If Blocks, hole in side for handle ------- N/A
Handset Cord is Coil or Straight ------  Coiled Hdst Cord
Handset Cord Material ------------------ Black Vinyl
Set Cord Material ------------------------ No Set Cord
Inside Wiring Cloth or Plastic ----------- Plastic Wiring
Metal Dial Mount Ring (40) ----------- Yes Dial Mounting Ring
Dial Model Number ---------------------- 821C
Dial Back Logo Diamond or Oval-------Diamond - AECo
Style of Dial Number Plate ------------ Red-#s, Blk-Ltrs, Operator & Z
Induction Coil Number ------------------- D-282996-A
Color of Ind Coil Wrapper----------------Black/Oronge Ink
Ringer Type ----------------------------- Straight Line
Ringer D Number-------------------------D-56462-A
Ringer Ohms----------------------------- 700/700
Ringer Left Coil Number---------------- D-281365-B
Ringer Right Coil Number---------------D-281350-B
Capacitor(s) 2 seperate or 2 in 1?-------- 2 in 1
Capacitor MF's marked?----------------- .4 MF
Capacitor D Number----------------------- D-68640A
Transmitter Capsule Type----------------AECo Type 41
Transmitter Capsule D#-----------------D-38309-A
Transmitter Capsule Code---------------UK
Receiver Capsule Type-------------------AECo Type 41
Receiver Capsule D#---------------------D-5189-A
Receiver Capsule Code-------------------PK
Phone Owner or Where Seen ----------- ebaY
Additional Notes about Phone ---------- SATT-A Spotter Dial
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 08:47:52 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2011, 12:41:45 AM »
Moved here by Terry, Posted by Stub.
Thanks Stub...Great Job! First reply to the AE survey, Thanks!
I love these AE 47 sets, what a mechanical marvel they are inside.
Terry

----------------------------------------------------------------

Terry,
          Here you go. You can sort this mess out.   AE- 47            stub
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 02:39:36 AM by AE_collector »

Offline stub

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2011, 01:36:57 AM »
                      AE- 35                                              
                                           It's late here and some answers I may have missed.  Sorry ,out of sequence numbers but I get them as I can reach them on the shelves.    If we are going to have a test afterwards I'm OUT ;D           AS always, you can left click on the pics to enlarge them.            stub
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 01:51:07 AM by stub1953 »
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Offline GG

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 02:28:36 AM »

(Note: spaces added to long numbers for accessibility.)

Questions: --------------------------  Answers:
Common AE Model # ------------------ 47 (two-line set as pictured)
Color of phone / handset ------------- Black Bakelite
Base Code section 1 ------------------- H 870 661 - 3
Base Code section 2 ------------------- I don't know how to parse above number.
Base Code section 3 ------------------- Date shown 8-57-8
D Number from Gold Decal ------------- D - 780 575 -A
Number of Patent #'s on Decal -------- None
USA or Canadian Made ----------------- Chicago 7
Handset Trim finish --------------------- No Handset Bands
Dial Fingerwheel ------------------------ Clear w. metal center (telco refurb)
Dial Number Card Description----------- Replaced by me, original is unknown
Cradle Buttons finish ------------------- Left chrome, right black plastic
Has Carry Bar or Plunger Blocks ------- Carry Bar
Carry Bar / Blocks Finish --------------- Chrome
If Blocks, hole in side for handle ------- N/A
Handset Cord is Coil or Straight ------  Straight
Handset Cord Material ------------------ Black rubber (not vinl)
Set Cord Material ------------------------ Cloth weave over cloth weave conductors.
Style of Number Plate on Dial ----------- Red-#s, Blk-Ltrs, Operator, no Z
Inside Wiring Cloth or Plastic ----------- Cloth Wiring Inside Phone
Metal Dial Mount Inside Phone ----------Metal ring for line keys; dial mounts in bakelite tabs, metal ring screwed over bakelite tabs.
Dial Model Number ---------------------- Inaccessible w/o major effort; metal diecast base painted flat black; bifurcated dial contacts
Ringer Type & Frequency -------------- Straight Line
Ringer Assembly Number -------------- D- 56 515 -A
Induction Coil Number ----------------- D- 282 996 -A
Phone Owner or Where Seen --------- GG; was telco refurbished
Additional Notes about Phone ---------- Housing & handset refinished by telco with high-quality paint that buffs to a buffed-plastic-like finish.  Can't tell it was painted except upon very close inspection. 

(I have a bunch of AE, will get to more of it over time.)

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 02:53:50 AM »
Thanks Stub & GG. I know it is a bunch of work to itemise everything in a single phone. Any contributions when you have time is much appreciated.

I just added some number card pictures to my original post to clarify what I am looking for there. Of course the AE 47 usually has a unique 3 line number card.

And to clarify the "Metal Dial Mounting Ring" question, it refers to some of the early AE 40's that didn't have molded in bakelite mounting tabs for the dial but rather had a metal ring that fit into the bakelite case that the dial mounted to.

Stub: A couple of questions about your AE 47:
Is your cloth mounting cord the original type for the 47 that splits in a "Y" at the set block end?
The third base code is RU-6 while the dial has RU-9 stamped on it?
Are the "AK" codes you quote for dial parts from the AE 4055 books? I better look them up too!

Think that's it for the 47, now on to the 35. An observation; both of your first to examples have numbers only dial plates!

Terry
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 03:08:01 AM by AE_collector »

Offline stub

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2011, 09:28:24 AM »
Terry,
           Stub: A couple of questions about your AE 47:
Is your cloth mounting cord the original type for the 47 that splits in a "Y" at the set block end?-  Yes
The third base code is RU-6 while the dial has RU-9 stamped on it?- Yes
Are the "AK" codes you quote for dial parts from the AE 4055 books?- Yes                                  
        
 SORRY- I forgot to tell you it had the radio supresser dial in it, that maybe why the the base code and the dial code don't match? I just added the pics.
          
         AE-35- I can't remember if it is a replacement, by me , or not. When I get a dial # ring in that is busted I most of the time replace it with the numbered one.  stub
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 02:52:55 AM by stub »
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2011, 12:20:01 PM »
Thanks for the clarifications Stub.

GG, Your AE 47:
This is the odd numbered one you mentioned previously with the 87 ish numbering. Even the dates on it (unusual of course) resembles the dating used on AE 80's of the era. I wonder if it is another military model that required dating and they just sort of ran it through the numbering process for the 80 sets as an easy solution. Using 87xx numbering was a logical range to use if it wasn't real easy to convert to 47xx numbering. I have never seen one numbered anything like this!

Is your plastic FW the original clear type that has/had the chrome ring?

And you have the gold water transfer decal but no patent numbers as in the example I posted above in my initial post?

Is your cloth set cord the original thay flares out to a Y at the set block end?

I need to post a picture of the early metal dial mount used in 40 sets but if you know what is is like, are you saying your dial has this mount even though it isn't required since the shell has the 3 tabs to mount the dial to? I should look at a 47 because I know the dial almost doesn't fit in them due to all the mechanicals for the line/hold keys. Maybe it is something unique to all 47's.

Thanks so much for the input!

And Finally (to everyone), I will take submissions of ANY phones that AE made, not just the 34 through 50 models.

Terry
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 07:01:35 PM by AE_collector »

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 07:03:53 PM »
Paul-F whipped up a Word File Form that you can print out to fill in or maybe even fill it in online and email back to me at biddlecombe<at>telus.net. Or you can scan it once filled in and post in this thread like Stub did. What ever works for you.

I am also going to work on an Excel sheet that you can use if you prefer.

Here it is and Thanks Paul!

« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 10:47:41 PM by AE_collector »

Offline GG

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2011, 10:42:49 PM »


Terry-

1)  It's not military; I vaguely recall it had a civilian number card with an area code and 7-digit phone number; may also have had a General Tel handset logo on the number card.  Also does not have the usual military part numbers or Signal Corps wording, nor does it have the military dial with the extra off-normal contacts as often seen on Connecticut telephones ("toaster" phones).   

2)  Plastic fingerwheel does have the chrome ring; identical to all other instances of this fingerwheel & retainer ring I have on other AE sets.  I suspect that the clear fingerwheel + chrome ring were added during a telco refurb process and were not original to the set. 

3)  That is correct, decal has no patent numbers.  Note, baseplate is the kind of gold-ish color seen on 80s. 

4)  Yes, original base cord that spreads into a Y at the terminal blocks.  Cord has the usual "AE / Monotype" cord look to it.  External weave is black; internal weave over individual conductors is brown with the usual colored strands and so on. 

5)  Dial mounting:  I clearly saw the bakelite tab at the "6:00" position under the dial, so presumably it had the ones at 3:00 and 9:00 positions as well.  The metal bracket was not to mount the dial, but to mount the line key assembly, which is screwed on behind the dial and presumably somewhere else as well.  I took this thing apart once to service the dial, and it is quite a bear to disassemble. 

---

Speculation about the 87-ish part numbering: 

Including the "exclusion key," technically this can be used as a "three-line" set even though there is no Hold function for the third line.  Thus, the most likely scenario is that it was used as a 2-line set with the exclusion key used for Intercom: press it to buzz the other station(s), then pull it up to talk.

If so, then we see continuity with the 3-line 87 and 187.  Both 87 and 187 can be used the same way as 47: two CO lines, one intercom line with manual buzz via the chrome SIG button on the 87 or the red SIG button on 187.  But since 87 and 187 have a Hold button for line 3, the line 3 position can also be used for a dial intercom or a third CO line.   

Type 87 has components that I think are Leich: the network block and the ringer, both of which are closer to WE style than AE style components.  (Anyone who has one of the Leich convertible desk/wall sets with extended numberplate could take a look and post pictures, to see if they're the same style of parts.) 

So I'm going to guess that when AE brought out the 80, they were looking forward to the 87, but there was a manufacturing lag getting the 87 into production because it was a joint project with Leich.  If that's correct, then there would be a brief time lag during which AE did not have a "modern" (extended number plate) three-line set. 

And if that's correct, then AE may have kept the 47 in production to fill the gap, and used similar but not identical parts codes to those used on the 87. 

In that case we would see 87-ish part numbers on the latter-day 47s.  However I would still expect to see black metal fingerwheels on these, so the clear fingerwheel with chrome retainer ring still strikes me as a telco refurb job (it actually looks nice and improves visibility of alphanumeric dials).

The other major contradiction in this phone is that the internal wiring is cloth rather than plastic.  I've seen AE 40s with the plastic insulated internal wiring and presumably they were the latter-day 40s.  If my hypothesis is correct that 47s were being used as "fill in the gap 87s", then I would expect to see plastic insulated internal wiring, so the cloth insulated internal wiring is a contradiction.

I have another 47 to report for you, and a handful of older 87s in mint green and in beige, so I'll get to those reasonably soon. 

Offline GG

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2011, 11:08:53 PM »


Here's my other 47 for you:

Questions: --------------------------  Answers:
Common AE Model # ------------------ 47
Color of phone / handset ------------- Black Bakelite
Base Code section 1 ------------------- L 4111
Base Code section 2 ------------------- ESL
Base Code section 3 ------------------- KN 3
D Number from Gold Decal ------------- D- 780 504 - A 46
Number of Patent #'s on Decal -------- 9 + design patent.
USA or Canadian Made ----------------- Chicago 7
Handset Trim finish --------------------- No Handset Bands
Dial Fingerwheel ------------------------ Black Painted Brass
Dial Number Card Description----------- Black 3 thin vert - larger # area (I may have replaced the original number card with one of my NOS from stock so this may not be original.)
Cradle Buttons finish ------------------- Left chrome; right black plastic.
Has Carry Bar or Plunger Blocks ------- Carry Bar
Carry Bar / Blocks Finish --------------- Black painted
If Blocks, hole in side for handle ------- N/A
Handset Cord is Coil or Straight ------  Coiled Hdst Cord, (conductors are red, yellow, green, as typically found on AE phones of this era, however the spade lugs inside the phone appear somewhat messily crimped, so the handset cord could have been reterminated at some point.)
Handset Cord Material ------------------ Black; not rubber, might be vinyl.
Set Cord Material ------------------------ Cloth covered, original type that splits into a Y at the end; typical Monotype cord with black weave external sheath, brown weave insulation over the conductors.
Style of Dial Number Plate ----------- Red-#s, Blk-Ltrs, Op & Z  ("metropolitan with Z")
Inside Wiring Cloth or Plastic ----------- Cloth Wiring , color striping is very clear compared with most 40-series phones I've seen. 
Metal Dial Mount Ring (40) --------- Three plastic tabs, metal bracket for line key assembly is attached behind dial at all three points. 
Dial Model Number ---------------------- not visible; not accessible; dial has diecast metal base, painted flat black, and bifurcated contacts. 
Ringer Type & Frequency -------------- Straight Line
Ringer Assembly Number -------------- D-56 515-A
Induction Coil Number ----------------- D-282 996-A
Phone Owner or Where Seen --------- GG
Additional Notes about Phone ---------- Internal schematic shows same part number L-4111-ESL as seen on base.  Internal schematic labels the press/lift key as "COMB. HOLD AND PUSH KEY," and schematic shows contacts as: One SPST pull to break; one SPDT; and then the momentary contact SPST press to make.  Thus this key probably is suitable for an exclusion key but not for a "third line" key.  The telephone could be used for one line + intercom on the main keyset, and then manual buzz and exclusion functions on the press/lift key.  I do not see any reason why that press/lift key would have been used for a Hold key since both Line keys have the usual type 47 Hold keys next to them.  Baseplate is also the gold-ish color same as on the 87-ish 47.  Two original connecting blocks present at ends of line cord.

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2011, 11:19:31 PM »
2) Of course he first generation of clear fingerwheel with chrome ring would have been out by the later 50's so it could have been original to the 47 but I too don't think that it would have been equipped that way at that time. The black 80's continued to use the black painted brass FW into the early 60's while colored 80's got the new plastic FW in the 50's. So most likely it was from a refurbishing.

87xx coding:

I always consider the 47 to be the predecessor of the 87. I consider it to be a 3 line phone with the 87 & 187 just being a more flexible version of the 47. As you point out the buzzer push button was carried through the 87 & 187 as well.

The oldest AE80 that I have (to the best of my knowledge) is from early 1958 but they were supposedly introduced in December 1954. The earliest AE86 or AE87 that I have is an AE86 from 1961. I don't have a lot of them though. I know that even the AE90 was introduced a year or two after the AE80's introduction.

So I would expect the 87 set to have been introduced no earlier than 58 or 59.  Therefore as you say, the 47 might have received updated coding and ordering numbers to better fit in with the 80 and newer phones. I am still surprised that they actually coded it with 87xx numbers but nothing that AE did should really surprise us. The fact that they did this makes me wonder just a little if they might not have updated it a bit with the clear FW as well just to make it seem more modern than what it really was.

A final possibility though is that it was recoded at refurb. The cloth wiring makes it seem older than late 50's. Some AE 40's definitely had plastic wiring and I don't think that it was all that close to the end of production when that change was made. One day I want to narrow down when the wiring changed from cloth but since there are so few dates on any of these phones, even narrowing it down is not easy to do.

Terry
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 09:01:14 PM by AE_Collector »

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2011, 11:37:33 PM »
GG: Re your second AE47.

I don't think I have ever seen an AE 40 or 47 with the gold anodized base like 80's had and you have two of them!

I wonder if the reference to hold/push key might refer to its operation (will hold in one position and is momentary in the other) as opposed to "Holding a line'. As you say it wouldn't be to hold line 1 or 2 so unless the little button can be a line key AND is able to hold that line, it isn't going to be a Hold function. I don't think it could be a hold key becasue there isn't a mechanical interlock on it to knock the line off of hold if you inadvertently hang up the phone forgetting you had a call holding there. Just thinking out loud...

Thanks for the info.

Terry

Offline GG

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 11:40:35 PM »


Now back to my 87-ish 47:

On this one the schematic has the same part number as the base: H-870 661-3.

Also the schematic shows the same "comb. hold & push key" wording and switch contacts diagram, as on the more usual 47 above. 

Due to the schematics re. the lift/press key (it is not a DPDT switch, it looks like an exclusion switch in the diagrams), I think we need to re-evaluate the idea that these were always capable of having a third line (even intercom) on the "lift" function of that key.  It may be that there was a different version of this phone, much as with the type 85s, that included the extra contact(s) on the lift key.

It would be interesting to find original AE Practices on Type 47 to clarify this.  If that's not possible, then "someone" (Volunteers?  I said, are there any volunteers?:-) should try tracing out the wiring or re-drawing the schematic in a larger format to make it easier to follow. 

Yet another possibility:  It seems to me that the two main Line keys have additional contact on them, that we would not expect for just switching two lines.  Those extra contacts could have been used for the "third (intercom) line" such that when both of the keys are up (neither line 1 nor line 2 in talk position), a third line is passed through both of them to the transmission circuit & handset.

That makes some sense because another set of DPST or DPDT contacts under the lift/press key would become problematic as follows:  The lift/press key is not mechanically interlocked to the two main line keys, so if it merely switched in an intercom circuit, the user could accidentally bridge the intercom to the CO line, thereby connecting together two independent sources of power: a big no-no.  On the other hand, if both of the regular line keys have to be raised to allow the intercom line to switch through to the phone, that solves the "foreign battery on line" problem entirely.  Since the line and hold keys have ridges allowing them to be pulled up manually, this would be easy enough to use. 

It would definitely be worthwhile to find the AE Practices docs for these phones.  IMHO these 47s are highly useful practical phones for 2-line operation, and they could be even more so if we knew how to hook up a third line for intercom with buzzer signaling.  (For example in residential service, for a family of four, assign buzz codes to each person, so you can call people by "person code" which is better than a PABX where you have to guess which phone is nearest to a given person at any given time and possibly dial around the house to find them.)  Also this information would enable making them compatible with type 87 and 187, for mixed systems for the same purposes.

(Got a call from a coworker about an IP network, gotta scoot.)

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2011, 11:58:06 PM »
I have definitely seen references to the small button being set up for various options including a third line. But there could be two variations of the phone with different contact sets being available.

I will check to see if I have the paperwork on the AE 47. I just might have it.

Presumably both of your 47 sets have dials that don''t quite sink down flush with the case? IE: you can see part of the side of the dial case above the bakelite. I always found that interesting. there is so much going on in there the dial won't quite fit all the way in!

Terry
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 09:04:11 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline GG

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Re: AE Phone Code Survey for 34, 35, 40, 43, 47 & 50
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2011, 12:37:38 AM »

Terry -

Yep, two gold baseplates.  Weird coincidences abound.  I have to believe they were common on 47s. 

The press/lift key near the cradle is interlocked to the hookswitch mechanism as follows:  Chrome button on the left: just operates the hookswitch.  Black button on the right:  Operates the hookswitch AND releases ALL Hold keys: the two below the dial and the lift/press key near the cradle.  So if it's performing a Hold function, for example on the mysterious third line that may exist within the 2-line keys, then yes it gets cleared when the handset is replaced.

Agreed, there may be another version of the phone with another contact set.  Though, space in that part of the housing was very tight.  In any case, with AE Practices we'll have the answer.   

My hypothesis is this:

When both Line keys below the dial are lifted, you get the mysterious third line.  This because both of the line keys appear to have extra contacts beyond those that would be used for just switching two lines.  (This means I'm going to have to open up one of those sets again to look; maybe later tonight.)

Both of those Line keys, as well as their associated Hold keys, have little ridges around the buttons enabling the user to lift those buttons manually.  That would be the way to get the third line. 

In actual use:  Line 1 rings.  Press Line 1 key, restoring Line 2 key to UP position, answer call.  Press Line 1 Hold key, restoring Line 1 key to UP position.  Now you have both line keys UP, thereby accessing the Intercom line.  Press the lift/press key to buzz the other stations to let someone know there is a call for them on Line 1.  Wait until the called station drops off the intercom line, then hang up your handset, restoring all keys to normal positions.  (Same scenario for a call on Line 2.)  (And the "lift" function of the lift/press key can still be used for exclusion if desired.)

Or if you had finished a call on Line 1 or Line 2, the line button would remain pressed after you hung up; so now if you wanted to make or receive an intercom call, you would lift the button manually and then pick up the handset. 

These 47s were also used in small PBXs, with dial intercom.  I have a picture of that around here somewhere.  The PBX cabinet was probably nothing more than a PAX dial intercom circuit with selective ring, non-selective talk, and it could have resided under the "mystery third line" arrangement of the two main Line keys per above. 

IF the PAX was actually selective-talk, THEN it would have become necessary to provide a Hold option for it, in which case the lift/press key could provide that hold function.

Methinks we're on our way to solving the mystery.

Yes both 47s have dials that stick out a little.  This is due to the metal bracket that mounts the line key assembly.  (And AE 40s with GPO-UK dials on them, as used in Canada, have a similar effect due to the adaptor ring that enables a GPO dial to be used in an American 3" dial opening.)

AE 47 could be said to have had too much stuff crammed into too small a space, but nonetheless it was a highly clever design, and apparently far more versatile than we might have guessed at first glance.  If we can find AE Practices on this one, I think we'll be surprised at how much it could do that wasn't obvious at first glance.

AE 85 series has similar potential surprises, but we already have docs on those.  By the time you get to AE 87 and 187, the possibilities are more obvious due to the uniformity of the switching between the keys.